Huhne destroyed by 'ambition, stupidity and arrogance'

Feb 5, 2013

He could have been deputy PM, but Huhne's flaws, amplified by politics, have wrecked his life

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Chris Huhne

CHRIS HUHNE perverted the course of justice for the sake of "three measly points" on his driving licence, an act that defines his "ferocious political ambition, stupidity and lack of judgement", says the Daily Mail.

The paper believes the spectacular unravelling of the man who could easily have been the Deputy Prime Minister, will elicit "few tears" from fellow politicians or the public. There seems little sympathy from journalists either, with the Mail's Geoffrey Levy calling Huhne a "man marked out by his arrogance".

Huhne had every advantage, says Levy. He was schooled at Westminister and Oxford's Magdalen College, where he swapped his rather patrician name Christopher Paul-Huhne, for the more "chirpy" Chris Huhne. That was an early glimpse of the lengths he was prepared to go to satisfy his political ambitions. Those ambitions propelled him close to the pinnacle of national power, but he has now shredded his career, his reputation and his relations with his family.

"As Huhne's arrogance fades from Westminister," writes Levy, "it is impossible to over-estimate the mess that he has made of his life, especially with his children."

Writing in The Sun, political blogger Guido Fawkes agrees there is little sympathy for Huhne within politics - David Cameron and Nick Clegg never wanted him back in Cabinet - or in the wider world. The MP's "arrogant, high-handed attitude" was no secret, writes Fawkes. But his "attitude to his 'loved ones' was genuinely shocking".

In The Independent, Dominic Lawson says some will claim that lying is all part of being a politician. But "dissimulation and evasiveness is much more common" in the Commons, says Lawson. What Huhne indulged in with "icy self-control" was "a shameless, knowing, look-you-in-the-face, un-intermediated lie".

There again, politicians – who embark on a careers that are "desperately uncertain" and reliant on the "public's whim" – are naturally risk-takers, writes Lawson. "Those who take such risks are much more likely than most men to stake their whole career on a single lie."

The Daily Mail's Stephen Glover, who counted Huhne as a friend since their days at Oxford, offers a more personal perspective. He recalls a lunch they had "about 20 months ago" when Huhne repeated the lie that he had not asked his ex-wife Vicky Pryce to take speeding points for him in March, 2003.

Huhne pursued a "great time-consuming and exhausting lie", writes Glover. A lie that wasted public money in the courts and ultimately turned a "relatively minor crime" into a "major one".

A taste of power and his immersion in the grubby world of politics changed Huhne for the worse, Glover believes. "He became ruthless and flaws of character which in another walk of life might not have been lethal were transformed, so that he came to believe he was unlike the 'little people'. In search of ever greater power, he ignored the tiresome little conventions such as honesty which govern their lives."

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